This quote, from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem, Tithonus—the next line is, “Me only cruel immortality pursues”—was used by Aldous Huxley to name a novel and also referred to by Evelyn Waugh, reminding me once again of the usefulness, for writers, of drinking from the same spring—even if the spring is tainted.
And this summer rapidly passing away has provided me with a good many sips if not whole swallows of tainted water, most recently in the form of the Texas flood. A comparison to the disaster wrought by Katrina reminded me of a study done by scientists ten months before that flood which warned that dikes and levies would fail—not could fail, but would fail—but since New Orleans lacked the funds to repair them, and the Federal Government only allots its dike-repair money in cases where the neighborhood to be protected is appraised at a higher value than the dikes—nothing happened.
In the case of all natural (so-called) disasters, poor neighborhoods are hardest hit—often they are located in cheaper low-lying areas—and take longer to recover. We will be hearing the same story in Harvey’s aftermath and again when the next hurricane strikes the southeast.
We can’t escape, as a nation, our ingrained habit of injustice.
My eldest grand-daughter, the apple of my eye, is just completing the first months of her first post-graduate job working for a Harlem not-for-profit that offers aid and advice to its neighbors picked up on all kinds of charges by the police.
This young woman is already well-acquainted with the ingrained injustices of our criminal law and the horror of our for-profit jails. She keeps her composure by using her tact, empathy and excellent Spanish to help when she can.
Meanwhile my swan, Doris Duke, her feathers ruffled by 27 months of editing, is sailing toward port at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and publication next spring or summer. It has been a tough voyage.
Meanwhile I comfort myself in the midst of political turmoil we know with images of this passing summer and the one before: the pirate ship docked in the harbor at Martha’s Vineyard, the deer eating seed under my bird feeder, the ghostly silhouette of Ship Rock on my last camping trip.
May we all sail into the fall, feathers ruffled, but still gliding ahead.